The deer amble slowly through the woods, stopping every so often to nibble the tender new growth of the briars.
They are still indulging themselves on the rations of corn I leave them. I find offerings of great tufts of snow white fur left for me by the "spirit deer," and I gather them to place on my nature altar.
As spring draws near I watch the subtle changes in the woods. First, the cat briars turn from brown to a misty shade of green. Snowdrops pop up in what seems to be overnight - spring bulbs start to push their way up through the hardened soil, the crocus makes her grand appearance with daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to follow soon after. The jewel tones of them are a treat to the eyes.
The world seems a happier place with spring on the horizon. All the wonderful sights and sounds we miss all winter long slowly reappear, as does our hope.
Mornings are once again punctuated by cheery birdsong. A red-headed woodpecker taps incessantly on a tree. Squirrels are once again busy scrambling through the thicket or rustling in the treetops putting the finishing touches to their nests. Pairs of squirrels are everywhere dancing their ritual dance of mating and the occasional battle of not-so-nice squirrel banter ensues, followed by a chase until the trespassing culprit leaves. In the early evening I hear the chorus from the bogs - the peepers have returned. Oh what a blissful sound that is to my winter weary ears! A winter that seemed unending now shows the promise of spring and renewal. All at once, I am happy and thankful to be alive.
Outside my cabin the white deer gather. They are at ease with my presence - their tails tucked neatly down. Soon, as the forest greens, they will have little need for my handouts. That I can get this close to them still holds me in awe. Every year new deer are born (usually twins), most of them mutations and not true albinos, for they lack pink eyes. Nonetheless unless you have seen one of them close-up you have missed their magnificent flawless beauty. Graceful and agile, they careen through the forest with swiftness, never missing a step.
It is a lazy day, unseasonably warm. A day made for dreaming of warmer days ahead. It feels more like early June than mid March. Two cats flank the steps to the cabin like bookends, content to lie and watch scampering squirrels vying with an array of birds for the much coveted sunflower seeds. Watching them, I feel the daily tensions slip from my body; my shoulders relax, my mind ceases to race. On a day such as this, winter seems long gone but we know that is not true - this day, this late winter teaser has lured us like long-slumbering bears from our dens. But that is okay, next week the calendar marks the true arrival of spring and this gal will gladly take a cool fifty degrees over those winter, frigid temps any day. So, bring it on winter, get in your last blows, you can't go on forever!
Today is the first day of spring, a day we have all waited for - but as I sit here writing I am watching the most spectacular and unexpected snowfall! Large, downy flakes drift down steadily, covering the mounds of green honeysuckle that have remained over the winter. The tree branches are frosted with downy snow. The sky is leaden gray and it doesn’t appear that it will be stopping anytime soon.
My cat Jodi sits at the window, mesmerized like I am by the falling flakes. The bluejays and a myriad of other birds fill the morning with a chorus of birdsong. They don’t seem the least bit upset by the snow.
To those of us that may be uttering curse words right now, I like to imagine that this may very well be the last snowfall I will ever see - and I can’t begrudge the ethereal beauty of it! Nature is full of surprises and She never lets us forget who is boss.
In my heart of hearts, I am hoping this beauty will last all day but deep down inside, I know even if it does, it won't be for long. The memory of this last snowfall will surely be conjured up mid-August when we are sweltering from the dog days of summer. Right now, I am content to sit here in silence with my cat, mesmerized by Nature's surprise.
Happy Spring everyone!